Members of Congress Urge Investigation of FBI Muslim Surveillance

Yesterday 22 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice urging him to launch an investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's improper recording and dissemination of information about the First Amendment-protected activities of American Muslims. Several of the members who joined the letter-including Representatives Pete Stark (D-CA-13), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14), Sam Farr (D- CA-17), Mike Honda (D- CA-15), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16), and Barbara Lee (D-CA-09) -represent districts in Northern California in which FBI memoranda document the use of community outreach for intelligence purposes.

The joint letter rightly highlights the negative impacts of the FBI’s misuse of community and mosque outreach to gather intelligence about Americans. The letter states:

Any FBI practice of taking information collected during community outreach efforts for the purpose of utilizing it as intelligence threatens to erode crucial trust between federal law enforcement and American communities. It is also contrary to basic constitutional principles of free speech and freedom of religion.

In April, the ACLU sent its own letter to the Inspector General following the release of FBI documents obtained through FOIA litigation, which demonstrate that from at least 2004 through 2010, the San Francisco and Sacramento FBI field offices documented and disseminated records on American Muslims' exercise of their First Amendment rights. Recorded activities include: the content of a religious sermon; the content of identified speakers' speeches at community events; and individuals' religious affiliations and associations. The FBI's retention of such information in its intelligence files-almost all of the documents were classified as secret or marked as positive intelligence, and were labeled for distribution outside of the FBI-violates federal Privacy Act prohibitions against the maintenance of records about individuals' First Amendment-protected activity.

For more information or to access the underlying documents read the ACLU alerts on FBI improper targeting of American Muslim Communities.

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There are some American citizens who have hold the Muslim faith. I’d be very interested in learning more about this terribly unending condition, that has been perpetuated since the 1890 Jim Crow laws existed. I presently reside in Texas, but worked my way through graduate school(social-pychology MA)within a locked facility in California, for juvenile offenders for 6 yrs. Learned a great about that population, and agree with you that all of what has been found to be the same, that keeps happening in the Texas’ prison system. It seems too, that culturally after the civil war of the 1860s, the views/’attitudes’ of the 1890 Jim Crow laws, were created as daily pratices of race profiling (preferring to pick-out colored over the white) into what today is a belief system today, from which those attitudes became “beliefs’. At the time that I was working within this job, the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander was being written, that has just come out to the public to be read. Thus, what I was seeing at that time, within a California facility, was exactly what was taking place nationwide, and today, had been establishing proceedures that would have to be dealt with, which is NOW. What I’d like to know, is what can be done to CHANGE these so well established ‘views on the world’, which have to be performed BEFORE any real CHANGE CAN BEGIN that you are goinog to see that you are speaking about at this moment. What I’ve learned is that ‘what one learns through the system (any system), is only what one can give back, and that is all, that they can give back, to the next generation’. Thus, what can anyone expect to learn from the previous generation, if this type of thinking/action continues. At the beginning of the established system, the one that needs to ‘step in’ to make or create a different end product would be those at both ends; the profilers as well as those on the bench who weighs in on the sentence. ‘CHANGE’ HAS TO BEGIN FROM THOSE WHO COMMUNICATE AND DEAL WITH THOSE WHO ARE DEFINED AS THE OFFENDERS.

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